Oman to bring new anti-bribery and corruption laws

Tougher laws to make bribery and corruption a corporate offence

NEWS, Business, Bribery, Corruption, Oman, UN Anti-Graft Convention

Oman is to introduce tougher powers to clamp down on bribery and corruption after it signed up to the UN Convention against Corruption, a legal expert has said.

The Sultanate has seen a number of high-profile corruption trials in recent years – including one which saw the founder of the country’s biggest publicly-listed construction company, Galfar, sentenced to three years in jail - a decision he has appealed.

Jamie Kellick of international law firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle, said one major effect of the new legislation will be to make corruption and bribery in the workplace a corporate offence. Under current legislation it is only a personal offence.

Kellick said that for companies to minimise risk of falling foul of the new legislation they need to ensure that they are complying with the following categories: proportionate procedures; top-level commitment; risk assessment; due diligence; communication and traning; monitoring and review; and reporting.

“It must be led from the management. The recent corruption cases of last year and this year, it’s all very well if a company turns around and says we had a rogue officer it’s got nothing to with the company, it’s just a very unfortunate incident that he’s run off with a whole load of money,”  he said at the CW Leaders in Construction Oman in Muscat. “Now that Oman has signed up to the UN Convention, one thing that I can be very sure is that the legislation is going to change. It’s going to become as it is in the States and Europe; it’s going to become a corporate offence. So there is going to be no excuse for companies for not at least attempting to have some procedures in place.”

Kellick said that one of the measures companies can take is to ensure their contracts with subcontractors, suppliers and third parties contain a ‘right to audit’ clause.

“This is actually a big issue because it gives you that ability to undertake that due diligence on the suppliers that you have,” he said. “If a supplier turns around and takes massive umbrage that you have asked for the right to audit then they’re not the supplier for you.

“You want to do that trickle down affect,” he added. “You want to see in their contract that they have the right to audit the subcontractor below them.”

Kellick said that firms would have to demonstrate that they are activity putting procedures in place to curb bribery and corruption.

“Not only do you have to put in the procedures and practices, you actually have to enforce them through training and actually informing your employees and your suppliers and your third parties that this is now the norm and not the exception,” he said.

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